Harriers second in home meet | VailDaily.com

Harriers second in home meet

Don Rogers

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyBattle Mountain's Jennifer Bowles tears through her second lap of the brutal Battle Mountain Invitational course, finishing in first place with a time of 22 minutes, 40 seconds Saturday on Beaver Creek Mountain.

BEAVER CREEK – The game plan was simple. “Run to win,” Battle Mountain cross country coach Rob Parish counseled senior Jennifer Bowles.Simple enough, if not exactly easy on perhaps Colorado’s toughest high cross country course, at Beaver Creek.

Bowles went out and punctuated the team’s home meet, the Battle Mountain Invitational, with a first-place finish in the girls varsity race Saturday, a first in individual performance this season. Always nice to do it at home.The boys and girls teams, 4A squads, both finished second in neck-and-neck duels. The girls finished just five points behind winner 5A Bear Creek. The boys were even closer, coming within two points of 5A Rocky Mountain.

While Bowles took first going away in 22 minutes, 40 seconds, senior Erika Ghent steamed into fourth at 24:15, followed by senior Leslie Peterson in 10th at 25:17, sophomore Christa Ghent in 12th at 25:20, and senior Whitney Allard in 16th at 25:48 to round out the scoring. Junior Marit Johnson finished in 19th at 26:18 and sophomore McKenzie Stevens finished 23rd at 26:30. Everyone on the team finished ahead of more than half the field of 57 runners in all, and seven teams.Bowles said it helped to run the course in practice. Unlike the more typical flat or rolling-hill courses, Beaver Creek rises and rises.

Then the downhill leg goes forever until runners turn a corner and climb endlessly again. “I had the confidence to do it,” she said. “I was trying the first lap to stay with the leaders, and then the second to pull ahead.”The boys ran without sophomore Johnny Stevens, who is in New Zealand with the U.S. Trail Running Team for the world championships. Still, running as pack they came in a whisker-close second out of 10 teams, edging ahead of 5A Fruita.

The story for the boys has been the emergence of underclassmen Jake Ball, Jamie Farhmeyer and John O’Neill, said Parish. They’ve turned what looked like might be a rebuilding year for the boys team into something else: contenders, like the fourth-ranked girls team in 4A.Senior Shea Phelan led the boys with an eighth-place finish in 20:26, followed by junior Ball in 10th at 20:32, senior Ben Rogers in 14th at 20:45, sophomore Jamie Farhmeyer in 15th at 20:50, and sophomore John O’Neill rounded out the scoring in 16th at 20:55. All finished with 30 seconds of each other. Sophomore Ryan Walker finished 22nd at 21:18 and freshman Andy Wetzel finished his first varsity race in 49th place with a time of 23:45, out of a field of 71 runners.”We’re very thrilled with these guys,” Parish said. “The guys did an excellent job running without their No. 1 runner.”

“Run to win.” It has the ring of a mantra as Battle Mountain cross country heads into the second half of its season.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado